Collection of documents relating to the 1925 Schneider Trophy Race


Established by French aviation enthusiast Jacques Schneider, the annual and later bi-annual Schneider Trophy Race was originally designed to foster the development of commercial seaplanes, but soon became a contest of pure speed. The ultimate prize in the contest was permanent retention of the trophy, which would be awarded to the country that won three consecutive races. The main competitors were France, Italy, the USA and Britain, with Britain securing the trophy in 1931.

The collection relates to the 1925 race, which was held in Baltimore, USA. For this race, Britain entered two planes, a Supermarine S4 monoplane and a Gloster III biplane. Especially high hopes were placed on the Supermarine S4, an advanced racer designed by R.J. Mitchell. Partially financed by the British government, which was at the time encouraging research into high-speed aircraft, Mitchell adopted a radical design: a highly streamlined cantilevered monoplane with no external bracing. The design proved effective, and in September 1925 the S4 set a new world speed record over a 3 km course at Calshot. In October 1925, the aircraft was shipped to Baltimore to enter the Schneider Trophy Race, where during pre-race high-speed navigability tests it developed a flutter and crashed into the sea, breaking in half. Owing to the position of cockpit, which was free of obstructions, the pilot, Henry Baird, managed to extricate himself from the plane and survive the crash.

The collection was compiled by an eye witness to the 1925 race, and comprises the official programme, annotated photographs of the Supermarine S4 and of the race track, and an annotated newspaper account of the event written by the pilot.


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